“I wanted to go out and attack them,” Hoppers’ pitcher Tyler Kinley said. “We had a one-run lead and I wanted to keep them off the bases. I had worked on getting ahead in the count and then putting them away. We have a great defense, so I wanted to keep the ball down in the zone.”
Hoppers top Kannapolis for 5th straight win
from Bill Hass with Bill on Baseball(Greensboro Grasshoppers) at www.gsohoppers.com….
J.T. Riddle had a feeling.
“They had been pitching me soft all night,” the Hoppers’ shortstop said of the way Kannapolis approached him. “In the back of my mind I thought they might go to a fastball. I got one inside and I put the barrel on the ball pretty good.”
The result of the swing, against the Intimidators’ Brad Salgado, was a home run to right field to lead off the bottom of the seventh inning. That put the Hoppers ahead 4-3 and they made it stand up for their fourth straight win on this home stand and fifth straight overall.
“Sometimes it’s a guessing game,” Riddle said of a battle with the pitcher. “Basically you sit on the fastball and adjust to the off-speed pitches. I just wanted to make sure I got my hands through the swing.”
It was something of a bounce-back win for Greensboro. Starter Jarlin Garcia, after four sharp innings, gave way to Tyler Kane in the fifth. Kane immediately surrendered a 2-0 lead by giving up three runs. Avery Romero tied things with a leadoff homer in the sixth inning, his fifth of the year, and Riddle’s ninth homer provided the go-ahead run in the next inning.
Because the Hoppers’ bullpen was thin after a doubleheader Tuesday and a 10-inning game Wednesday, they needed more from Kane, who regrouped and pitched two shutout innings.
“That was huge,” said pitching coach Jeremy Powell. “(Manager David Berg) told him to be aggressive out there. If they hit the ball, fine, but be aggressive, and he was.”
Kane got the win after Tyler Bremer pitched a one-two-three eighth and Tyler Kinley did the same in the ninth for his 10th save.
Garcia is in the same position as Domingo German, having his innings closely monitored. He has now pitched 124 on the season and is closing in on his limit determined by the parent Miami Marlins. That means he had to start Thursday’s game without a chance to be the winner, which German has also been doing.
“You hate to do it,” Powell said. “These guys are competitors and they don’t understand the bigger picture. We try to get them to see that it’s not about today, it’s about the future.
“He had an outstanding approach tonight. He looked relaxed, he established his fastball and used his changeup and slider effectively. It would have been nice to see how far he could go, but we couldn’t do it.”
Kinley had four days of rest and was chomping at the bit to get in a game. He threw all fastballs except for one slider, which Powell said will need to change down the road.
“I wanted to go out and attack them,” Kinley said. “We had a one-run lead and I wanted to keep them off the bases. I had worked on getting ahead in the count and then putting them away. We have a great defense, so I wanted to keep the ball down in the zone.”
The last hitter, Carl Thomore, ripped a line drive right back at Kinley. It bounced off his glove and he took his time getting to the ball and tossing to first base to get Thomore by an eyelash.
“You don’t want to rush the throw,” he said. “I was aware of where he was.”
It was a cleaner game for the Hoppers than the one Wednesday, but not without its faults.
“We’re still making too many mistakes,” Berg said, “especially baserunning. We scored enough to win and the guys pitching late (Bremer and Kinley) did well. That was the best I’ve seen Garcia. He showed a little bit of a slider tonight.”
Ryan Wertenberger is the scheduled starter for the second game of the series Friday at 7 p.m.
NOTES: Felix Munoz had a sacrifice fly that drove in the Hoppers’ first run and increased his RBI total to 82, tied for third in the SAL … The Hoppers might get two key players back for Friday’s game. Outfielder Austin Dean (groin) is close to being ready to come off the disabled list and third baseman Brian Anderson (back), who has not been on the DL but has missed several games, is feeling much better … Catcher Chad Wallach was placed on the DL with a concussion suffered Tuesday when he caught a foot in the head during a play at the plate.